Agave salmiana var.ferox
This article belongs to our "exotic pets and plants series" pages which do not focus on aquatic fish, but to other species that are often kept or grown by hobbyists. Feel free to share your experiences with this cactus at the bottom of this page!
Agave salmiana var.ferox is a succulent that is commonly grown for a foliage plant even though it will produce flowers but these are often considered as a bonus with the leaves being the main reason that they are used in many gardens. They are commonly called the “Green giant” or the “Giant agave” and they originate from Mexico where they are abundant with the sunny conditions that nature provides them.
They are an evergreen succulent which grow to quite a substantial size, the leaves can reach a length of up to 6 feet and the overall diameter of a mature plant can be twice this size. As expected they prefer a position where they will receive full sun and they are drought resistant making them a low maintenance plant for gardeners with a busy schedule in their life.The leaves change from a green colouration to take on a bluish tint at the base giving even greater effect. They can tolerate lower temperatures through the winter but during severe conditions, it is advised to protect this plant with fleece or something similar just to make sure that they do not suffer any long term damage.
It should be noted that when you first plant Agave salmiana var.ferox they may look like a small area will suffice but unless kept in check, they will produce lots of runners when mature and can quickly take over a large area.
It should also be noted that the leaves produce spines on their edges which can be quite sharp and they also produce a sap which can cause swelling if the spines puncture the skin.
The flower stems will reach a height of up to 20 feet where yellow flowers are produced hanging like a candelabra, these are highly attractive to birds and bees so make a good addition to any garden where the wildlife and insect population is welcome.
This plant can be propagated by either planting seeds or from removing the runners from the mother plant. You can also propagate by dividing the rhizomes as all in all there are many choices on obtaining further specimens. In either case a suitable cactus soil should be used to get the best results.
When growing from seed you will need to be patient as it can take a few years for this plant to mature properly but well worth the wait, runners as expected is the quickest method and should root quickly if cared for properly.
Notes on cactus soil
A reputable cactus soil that is available from suppliers is designed to have excellent drainage, they will hold small amounts of water but are designed to provide drought conditions which replicates the natural habitat of cacti. Cacti do not like wet feet, they prefer an occasional water but any excess water must drain away quickly. There are many components used and these could be mixed in various ratios depending on the supplier but many common ingredients can easily be listed, many experienced growers prefer to make their own mix which works for them.
Common ingredients used include grit, pumice and sand. On a personal basis I experimented with a mix of 10% multipurpose compost, 45% vermiculite and 45% baked clay cat litter, this worked well for me but as mentioned everyone has their own way of mixing soil and a little experimentation goes a long way!